The Pandemic Buddha: Social Recalibration and Post-pandemic Buddhist Engagement in Bhutan


The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Early Career Research Fellowships in Buddhist Studies


Center for Advance Studies


The Covid-19 pandemic has disrupted normalcy across the world. However, while rich countries had better coping abilities, including early access to vaccines, poorer countries like Bhutan were left to their own devices. For Bhutan, the world's last Vajrayana kingdom, being resilient against the pandemic and rebuilding its shattered economy meant re-activating its indigenous governance model of chos srid zung 'brel, or the dual system of Buddhist and secular laws whereby the clergy supports the state-making process through their community outreach and ritual recourse. Combining ethnography and historiography, this research will study the resurgence of Buddhist influence in Bhutanese polity by squarely focusing on the key Buddhist clerical figures, institutions, processes and outcomes.